Many might agree, schematic faces, or emoticons, have a way of sweeping into our minds and filling us with joy, sadness, anger, and many other emotions. How amazing is it that a simple line drawing can affect us on such an emotional level?

The Power in Schematic Faces

Smiley faces can make us laugh, giggle, and smile back. These smiley schematic faces can soften a sentence, add humor to a serious discussion, and offer a friendly tone.

Expressions in Schematic Faces

As human beings, we pay attention to faces. We connect to them. We interpret vast amounts of information in seconds just from laying our eyes on them. Our basic survival depends on our ability to interpret and digest non-verbal cues from a person’s facial expression.

Findings on Schematic Faces

Connie Malamed, a consultant, author and speaker in the fields of visual design, online learning and information design, wrote an article on this subject titled, The Visual Language of Schematic Faces. In this article, she discussed the idea of Facial Codes. Malamed explained, “The conveyance of facial expressions are uncannily reflected in schematic faces. This is probably due to our competence at reading and interpreting what is known as the facial code, which many believe is universal to all people in all cultures.”

In her article, Malamed references research conducted by Paul Ekman, one of the most well-known researchers in this field, and his findings on prototypical facial codes that express six distinct primary emotions, joy, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust, and anger.

Importance of Schematic Faces on ISD Professionals

Our faces hold great communication power, and even in simple line form, human emotions can be expressed clearly and concisely. As users of technology and imagery, this wonderful ability of the human brain to interpret data from schematic faces can have far-reaching benefits by ways of helping to improve the way we communicate visually, and how this communication is then absorbed in a profound level.

Do you make use of schematic faces in your ISD work?

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